CHARLESTON – West Virginia insurance commissioner Jane Cline has asked workers compensation insurer BrickStreet Mutual to reimburse the state for a $555,763 computer system.

Taxpayers bought the system Dec. 30, 2005, the final business day of the 92 year old Workers Compensation Commission.

BrickStreet Mutual opened as a private business Jan. 1, 2006, with the new computer system in its offices.

In all, Cline has questioned expenditures of about $3.3 million in the transition from state commission to private company. The Legislative Auditor has questioned other items worth about $232,000.

BrickStreet president Greg Burton takes the audits as a compliment.

In a May 1 letter to Cline, he wrote that questioned expenditures amounted to a tenth of the $35 million the Legislature appropriated for the transition.

"Given all the unknown hurdles which surrounded this endeavor as it began, BrickStreet submits that this low percentage of questioned expenditures serves as a compliment to all of the parties," he wrote. "When I became the executive director of the Commission in 2003, it had approximately six hundred million dollars in cash and was losing nearly $1,000,000 every business day.

"Three years later, my team left the Commission with almost one billion one hundred million dollars in cash."

He wrote that BrickStreet would immediately reimburse the amount the Legislative Auditor questioned or add it to a $200 million loan the Legislature provided to help BrickStreet get started.

He also reminded Cline that elected officials supervised the transition.

"The four members of the Legislature who sat on the Commission's oversight board ('board of managers") and who sat on BrickStreet's provisional board of directors were central to the success of the transition," Burton wrote. "The Governor, who served as chairman of the Commission's oversight body (board of managers) and the Provisional Board demonstrated bold leadership in overseeing the closeout of the Commission and the inception of BrickStreet."

The Legislature gave BrickStreet a monopoly on workers compensation policies for two and a half years. Most of that free period has passed.

Starting July 1 of next year, any insurer can sell workers compensation policies in West Virginia.

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